With Samsung's recent entry into the U.S. market, it certainly makes sense for the company to include an example of the hottest thing in laptops right now--the humble Netbook. As evidenced by other recent big-name entrants such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, and Lenovo, it seems that no PC maker's lineup is complete without one of these small, low-price systems.
The Samsung Netbook, called the NC10, is a $499 10-inch system, which could easily be mistaken for a Lenovo S10 or MSI Wind from across the room. Its most notable feature is that it has no notable features. It's a completely average Netbook in every way, lacking unique extras such as the Lenovo Ideapad S10's ExpressCard slot or the HP Mini 1000's big keyboard.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. And we like the excellent battery life, second only to Asus' Netbooks. So, if extra-long battery life is more important to you than HP's big keyboard (although the NC10's keyboard isn't bad either), Lenovo's expansion slot, or Dell's customization options (no SDD or Linux options here, for example), then you'll be pleased that Samsung finally decided to sell its wares stateside.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$499|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Atom N270|
|Memory||1GB, 533MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GM Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows XP Home Edition SP2|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3 x 7.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.2 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.9/3.6 pounds|
Clearly from the Netbook 101 design school, the Samsung NC10 has the similar look and feel to Netbooks from Asus, Acer, and others. The rounded hinge and slightly curved lid make for a softer silhouette than Lenovo's squared-off S10, but the physical differences are still minor. The NC10 is a fixed-configuration system; your only customization option is choosing either a white or a blue chassis.
Next to HP's Mini 1000, the Samsung NC10 has the best Netbook keyboard we've seen. The slightly tapered keys (which Samsung claims are 93 percent as big as a full-size keyboard) are easy to use, and no important keys have been shuffled around to inconvenient places (although the Tab key is half-size). The touchpad, on the other hand, is hard to use. It's long but very narrow (only a little more than 1-inch high), which makes scrolling vertically through long Web pages or documents cumbersome.
The 10.2-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,024x600 native resolution, which is standard for a Netbook. On a 10-inch screen, that makes for a fairly usable experience, and one we think is worth making the leap from a 9-inch Netbook.
|Samsung NC10||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
With Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, specifically designed for low-power Netbooks, you get enough computing power for the basic tasks--Web surfing, working on documents, and some basic multimedia playback. That combo of Intel's Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP is found in every Netbook we've seen recently, so it's not surprising that we saw no real performance difference between the NC10, Dell's Mini 9, HP's Mini 1000, and others. Any of these are fine for basic on-the-go computing, as long as you keep your expectations modest.
The Samsung NC10 ran for 4 hours and 41 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's much better than any other Netbook we've seen, with the exception of the Asus Eee PC 901 and 1000, which also have chunky six-cell batteries. The trade-off is that the big battery adds bulk and weight beyond the slim Netbooks from HP and Lenovo.